The working of the Forest

In our foundation we believe that society, its governing bodies and public administration and governance sciences can learn a lot from the working of the forest ecosystem. Society, we think, follows the rules of nature. In fact it is an image of nature. So is the forest.

We know from our founding father, friend and top forest ecologist Prof. dr. ir. Roelof A.A. Oldeman (1937-2022), that the forest consists of a complex collection of symbiotic webs of interbeing. Like society, it is a communicating constantly through fibres and wires where (in the forest chemical) signals are dispatched along the (in the forest fungal) networks that live in their roots of trees (and in society in organisations).

The Canadian forest ecologist Suzanne Simard describes it as an invisible, astonishing underworld. One of her doctoral students – Camille Defrenne – at the University of British Columbia, studying how the interaction and architecture of root systems relate to forest dynamics and climate change – created wit animator Avi Ofer this short animation. It synthesizes the fascinating, almost otherworldly findings of Simard’s lab. Watch and learn.

Suzanne Simard (TedTalk): “Yes, trees are the foundation of forests, but a forest is much more than what you see… Underground there is this other world — a world of infinite biological pathways that connect trees and allow them to communicate and allow the forest to behave as though it’s a single organism. It might remind you of a sort of intelligence.”